A group of 20 kids from across Regina spent Wednesday afternoon being followed closely by police but they weren’t in trouble.
They were being rewarded for things like good grades, each paired with an officer for the fourth annual Cop Shop event at the Cornwall Centre.
It was organized through the Regina intersectoral Partnership (TRiP), which is a program that helps keep kids on the right track with early intervention and prevention for kids from all walks of life.
Each child enjoyed a pizza lunch and was provided with a free winter jacket and boots along with a $200 shopping spree and a photo with Santa Claus.
“We talk a lot about what they’ve got going on in school, what their plans are for the holidays. I think it just gives our officers a good chance to connect with some youth in our community,” said Chief Evan Bray.
Cpl. Melinda Lalach was paired with Shyla Crowe-Wilkinson. They spent most of their time in the horse and stable toy section of The Bay. Shyla loves horses and through TRiP, she is involved in horseback riding.
Lalach is also a member of the TRiP team and said it’s rewarding to see kids like Shyla develop and grow in the program.
“If they didn’t have this initiative, this wrap-around support, I often wonder where would they be? What would things look like for them?” said Lalach.
Shyla said spending the day shopping with police was “so cool” and has an admiration for Cpl. Lalach.
“She’s perfect,” said Shyla, pointing out Lalach’s curly hair as one reason.
Lalach said the way children view police officers is not always as positive as she hopes it would be. She explained events like Cop Shop allow them to spend time with kids in a fun role.
She said being able to help and connect with people on a personal level is a reminder of why she became a police officer.
A big toy horse stable that caught Shyla’s eye and she quickly fell in love. Lalach spent most of her time trying to help Shyla understand how big of a chunk the $140 price tag would take out of their $200 budget. Shyla understood it was a big purchase but there was no convincing the eight-year-old otherwise.
In the end, the real gift was priceless.
“Being able to do something like this really does make it feel much more like Christmas,” said Lalach.